Portal:Weather

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The Weather portal

Thunderstorm near Garajau, Madeira

Weather is the state of the atmosphere, describing for example the degree to which it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. Most weather phenomena occur in the lowest level of the atmosphere, the troposphere, just below the stratosphere. Weather refers to day-to-day temperature and precipitation activity, whereas climate is the term for the averaging of atmospheric conditions over longer periods of time. When used without qualification, "weather" is generally understood to mean the weather of Earth.

Weather is driven by air pressure, temperature and moisture differences between one place and another. These differences can occur due to the sun's angle at any particular spot, which varies with latitude. The strong temperature contrast between polar and tropical air gives rise to the largest scale atmospheric circulations: the Hadley Cell, the Ferrel Cell, the Polar Cell, and the jet stream. Weather systems in the mid-latitudes, such as extratropical cyclones, are caused by instabilities of the jet stream flow. Because the Earth's axis is tilted relative to its orbital plane, sunlight is incident at different angles at different times of the year. On Earth's surface, temperatures usually range ±40 °C (−40 °F to 100 °F) annually. Over thousands of years, changes in Earth's orbit can affect the amount and distribution of solar energy received by the Earth, thus influencing long-term climate and global climate change.

Surface temperature differences in turn cause pressure differences. Higher altitudes are cooler than lower altitudes, as most atmospheric heating is due to contact with the Earth's surface while radiative losses to space are mostly constant. Weather forecasting is the application of science and technology to predict the state of the atmosphere for a future time and a given location. The Earth's weather system is a chaotic system; as a result, small changes to one part of the system can grow to have large effects on the system as a whole. Human attempts to control the weather have occurred throughout history, and there is evidence that human activities such as agriculture and industry have modified weather patterns.

Studying how the weather works on other planets has been helpful in understanding how weather works on Earth. A famous landmark in the Solar System, Jupiter's Great Red Spot, is an anticyclonic storm known to have existed for at least 300 years. However, weather is not limited to planetary bodies. A star's corona is constantly being lost to space, creating what is essentially a very thin atmosphere throughout the Solar System. The movement of mass ejected from the Sun is known as the solar wind.

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Redsea sandstorm May13-2005.jpg

A dust storm is a meteorological phenomenon where strong winds lift loose dust from arid and semi-arid regions, often transporting the particles long distances. These storms can continue hundreds of miles from their source, and can have drastic effects on human health, transportation, and society in general. This storm occurred in May 2005 over the Red Sea.

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A weather front is a boundary separating two masses of air of different densities, and is the principal cause of meteorological phenomena. In surface weather analyses, fronts are depicted using various colored lines and symbols, depending on the type of front. The air masses separated by a front usually differ in temperature and humidity. Cold fronts may feature narrow bands of thunderstorms and severe weather, and may on occasion be preceded by squall lines or dry lines. Warm fronts are usually preceded by stratiform precipitation and fog. The weather usually clears quickly after a front's passage. Some fronts produce no precipitation and little cloudiness, although there is invariably a wind shift.

Cold fronts and occluded fronts generally move from west to east, while warm fronts move poleward. Because of the greater density of air in their wake, cold fronts and cold occlusions move faster than warm fronts and warm occlusions. Mountains and warm bodies of water can slow the movement of fronts. When a front becomes stationary, and the density contrast across the frontal boundary vanishes, the front can degenerate into a line which separates regions of differing wind velocity, known as a shearline. This is most common over the open ocean.

Different air masses which affect North America, as well as other continents, tend to be separated by frontal boundaries. In this illustration, the Arctic front separates Arctic from Polar air masses, while the Polar front separates Polar air from warm air masses.

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Did you know...

...that Hurricane Debbie is the only known tropical cyclone ever to strike Ireland?

...that the Tempest Prognosticator, one of the earliest attempts at a weather prediction device, employed live leeches in its operation?

...that eyewall replacement cycles are among the biggest challenges in forecasting tropical cyclone intensity?

...that the Braer Storm of January 1993 is likely the strongest extratropical cyclone ever recorded in the north Atlantic Ocean?

...that in medieval lore, Tempestarii are magicians with the power to control the weather?

...that the omega equation is essential to numerical weather prediction?

Recent and ongoing weather

This week in weather history...

October 7

Portal:Weather/On this day list/October 7/5

October 8

1946: A hurricane made landfall near Tampa Bay, Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour (137 km/h). As of 2018 this was the last hurricane to directly hit the city.

October 9

1997: Hurricane Pauline, the costliest hurricane ever recorded in the eastern Pacific Ocean, made landfall near Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca.

October 10

1817: C. H. D. Buys Ballot, one of the founding fathers of meteorology, was born in Kloetinge, Netherlands.

October 11

1846: The Great Havana Hurricane of 1846 killed 163 people in Cuba.

2005: Hurricane Vince made landfall on the Iberian Peninsula as a tropical depression, the only tropical cyclone since the 1800s to do so.

October 12

1962: The Columbus Day Storm brought damaging winds of more than 100 mph (160 km/h) to a large area of the Pacific Northwest.

October 13

1998: Typhoon Zeb reached peak intensity east of the Philippines. Its central pressure was 872 millibars (25.8 inHg), tied for the second-lowest ever recorded.

2006: Lake Storm "Aphid" dumped two feet of incredibly heavy snow on Buffalo, New York, destroying 90% of the city's trees and resulting in 13 deaths.

Selected biography

John Park Finley (April 11, 1854 – November 24, 1943) was an American meteorologist and Army Signal Service officer who was the first person to study tornadoes intensively. He wrote the first known scientific book on the subject of tornadoes, as well as many other manuals and booklets. He was responsible for the first national network for reporting tornado touchdowns and outbreaks, and kept an archive of tornado reports from across the United States. He also collected vast climatological data, set up a nationwide weather observer network, started one of the first private weather enterprises, and opened an early aviation weather school.

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Wikiprojects

WikiProject Meteorology is a collaborative effort by dozens of Wikipedians to improve the quality of meteorology- and weather-related articles. If you would like to help, visit the project talk page, and see what needs doing.

WikiProject Severe weather is a similar project specific to articles about severe weather. Their talk page is located here.

WikiProject Tropical cyclones is a daughter project of WikiProject meteorology. The dozens of semi-active members and several full-time members focus on improving Wikipdia's coverage of tropical cyclones.

WikiProject Non-tropical storms is a collaborative project to improve articles related to winter storms, wind storms, and extratropical weather.

Wikipedia is a fully collaborative effort by volunteers. So if you see something you think you can improve, be bold and get to editing! We appreciate any help you can provide!

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